Timea Bacsinszky is back into the French Open semifinals after fighting past an inspired Kristina Mladenovic – and the stormy conditions in Paris.
The No.30-seeded Swiss was up against fan favorite Mladenovic – who enjoyed vocal support from the crowd on Court Philippe Chatrier – and had to contend with the blustery winds in Paris and two rain delays before closing out the encounter, 6-4, 6-4.
“It was really difficult because we had all the seasons rolled into one today,” said Bacsinszky . “We had a sand storm, a hurricane and we almost had snow too. It was really tough to keep my concentration all day long.
“I’m really happy and proud. For many years, big things have happened for me at Roland-Garros. I’m really happy to be through to my second semi-final here. I feel really privileged.”
It seemed that the Frenchwoman’s week and a half of epic battles had finally caught up with her; coming into the match Mladenovic had spent almost five hours longer on court than Bacsinszky, and her error-strewn start handed the Swiss an early break.
But Bacsinszky struggled herself as the high winds wreaked havoc on her high ball toss, and with the clay swirling around them both players often had trouble keeping their eyes open.
Mladenovic soon struck back to level the match, and as the wind eventually died down both players were able to get their best tennis going, Mladenovic going to her signature dropshots time and time again. The pair were locked toe-to-toe until the Swiss finally earned the deciding break late in the set after claiming the longest rally so far – a 22-shot marathon – to get break point, before serving out the opening set.
The conditions in Paris came into play once at 1-1 in the second, as the rain came down and suspended play for over three hours with Mladenovic trailing 30-40 on her serve. Upon resumption, the Frenchwoman fought off the break and roared ahead 3-1, but her joy was short-lived as Bacsinszky found her range once again, striking winners off both wings.
Bacsinszky came out firing after another brief rain delay as the Chatrier crowd did its best to keep Mladenovic alive. The Swiss didn’t back down, though, staying aggressive to bring up match point with a perfectly placed winner down the line.
“I think today I just didn’t manage to play my game plan obviously due to the conditions today out there,” Mladenovic explained afterwards. “I think she managed to play way better than me.
“Maybe her game suits these kind of conditions better, so, you know, at times when I wanted to be more aggressive, I did too many errors. I still had some opportunities here and there but didn’t make it.
“At the end, it’s a quite close scoreboard, 4 and 4, but I feel I’m very far from the game I could have shown.”
Bacsinszky will play Jelena Ostapenko in the semifinals after the Latvian teenager stunned Caroline Wozniacki later in the day.